Call of Duty: Black Ops II Uprising DLC review for Xbox 360

Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

I figured we should take a bit of time to talk about the new Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 DLC pack that hit Xbox Live last week, dubbed Uprising. Really I just want to talk about Mob of the Dead, included with the four new multiplayer maps for Uprising. But we?ll talk about the maps for a minute too because hey, they?re part of the package.

Not that the maps themselves are particularly awful. In fact Studio, a call back to the popular Firing Range map from the original Black Ops is pretty damn good. Granted it copies the layout from Firing Range, but spruces up the visuals with a Hollywood back lot look, giving you a few different movie genres to run wild in, including sci-fi, the Wild West, and medieval fantasy settings. There?s a lot of variety in pathways and elevations, making it a map that?s hard to hold down for campers, and forces you to be sort of fluid in your approach. On one hand it?s sort of a shame to see Treyarch going back to the well to bring us a solid DLC map, but it?s hard to deny that the map is a lot of fun.

cod_mob_of_the_dead_5The other three maps featured are sort of mixed in quality. Magma is another environmental hazard map similar to the Hydro map featured in the last map pack. It?s set in a small Japanese town that?s been overcome with lava from an erupting volcano. There are sections of the road that have been carved away and collapsed, giving you some varying elevations. There are also a handful of stores and buildings to run through, a collapsed train car for cover, and a relatively small station too. I?m not a huge fan of this one, the environmental hazard rarely seems to catch anyone off guard, and doesn?t seem to pop up nearly as often as the water release in Hydro. Players also seem to avoid the center of the map like the plague, so most firefights are on the far right or back end of the map, making it too predictable to be fun.

Encore, the third map featured, is a step up though. It?s a small outside concert arena based in London. The center of the map is dominated by the concert stage, making it a coveted position if you can hold it, but making it ridiculously tough to do so due to all the elevated seating surrounding it. The edges of the map are mostly interior to exterior switches, running through concession like areas indoors to outside locations that give you paths to the center of the map, along with the exterior elevated seating. I like this map a fair bit, but it?s still outclassed by Studio.

cod_blops2_uprising_encoreFinally, there?s Vertigo, an industrial high-rise map that looks like something taken from the pages of Dubai?s architecture. This features lots of outdoor roof areas mixed with interior sections featuring stylized walkways and sliding doors. Drones fill the air throughout the map, but while the map is visually impressive, there?s not a lot that I find interesting about the overall layout. It?s also the least popular map I?ve seen in rotation, often being voted down by players, and so it?s been the least played map in this pack for me. A little more time with the map might reveal something special, but from what I?ve played so far there?s not much memorable here outside of the flashy, high-tech industrial setting surrounding it.

But there?s Mob of the Dead, which really makes Uprising worth the purchase in my opinion. And I?m a guy that doesn?t generally give a damn about the various Zombie modes Treyarch has introduced in their Call of Duty titles.

cod_blops2_uprising_studioMob of the Dead features four notable Hollywood actors, particularly well-known for the mobster/gangster roles they?ve played over the years. You?ve got Ray Liotta, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, and Joe Pantoliano lending both their likeness and voices to the presentation. The characters models approach an uncanny valley element of creepiness, but I certainly like the idea. It?s set against the backdrop of Alcatraz, where the four gangsters portrayed are currently locked up and planning an escape. When they initiate the plan, however, they soon learn that most of the inmates and wardens have escaped through another route already, death. So now they?re surrounded by hordes of the undead, and need to work together in order to leave Alcatraz alive.

There?s a lot about this mode that I love, and I think it?s one of the better objective based Zombie maps we?ve seen thus far. While the zombies still attack in progressively harder waves throughout, you?ve got a lot of Alcatraz to explore in a few different ways. The idea is that you?re trying to find enough parts scattered about to build a small airplane, done by reaching the roof of the prison in order to make an escape. But finding those parts can be pretty tricky, most are well hidden, and involve secret passages that need to be uncovered by literally killing yourself and using a ghost form to charge up electrical conduits in different spots. Teamwork is important here, as in most zombie modes, so random groups are going to have a lot of trouble. But the added mechanics really sold me on this map, and it actually makes me look forward to whatever Treyarch does next in regards to zombie maps.

cod_mob_of_the_dead_6Outside of the standard co-op objective based mode, there?s a Grief mode for the cell block portion of Alcatraz too. Grief mode is an 8 player survival mode that splits into four teams, one of which is made up of the four gangster characters, and the other made up of wardens from Alcatraz. You?ll face off against wave after wave of zombies, but players from the opposing teams can also attack each other. It?s a pretty fun addition to the standard survival gameplay, because it benefits you to work together as long as possible, but the potential for random backstabbing is always present. The winner is the last player or team left standing, so at some point you?ll have to turn on each other to secure a victory. The map is limited compared to the core objective based mode mentioned above, but considering the cell block portion of the Alcatraz map is confined and hectic, the section you get to play through is suitable for the paranoia this mode elicits.

I definitely feel like Uprising is a piece of DLC that?s worth your money, if for no other reason than the Mob of the Dead mode. But Studio is an excellent addition to the maps featured in Black Ops 2 so far, and while Magma and Vertigo fail to excite, Encore certainly has some merit. If you haven?t already picked this pack up, then I?d definitely suggest doing so, even if you?re not a huge zombie fan. I think you?ll be surprised with how fun Mob of the Dead ends up being, I certainly was.

Grade: B